School-based Prevention for Adolescent Internet Addiction: Prevention is the Key. A Systematic Literature Review

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019;17(6):507-525. doi: 10.2174/1570159X16666180813153806.


Adolescents' media use represents a normative need for information, communication, recreation and functionality, yet problematic Internet use has increased. Given the arguably alarming prevalence rates worldwide and the increasingly problematic use of gaming and social media, the need for an integration of prevention efforts appears to be timely. The aim of this systematic literature review is (i) to identify school-based prevention programmes or protocols for Internet Addiction targeting adolescents within the school context and to examine the programmes' effectiveness, and (ii) to highlight strengths, limitations, and best practices to inform the design of new initiatives, by capitalizing on these studies' recommendations. The findings of the reviewed studies to date presented mixed outcomes and are in need of further empirical evidence. The current review identified the following needs to be addressed in future designs to: (i) define the clinical status of Internet Addiction (IA) more precisely, (ii) use more current psychometrically robust assessment tools for the measurement of effectiveness (based on the most recent empirical developments), (iii) reconsider the main outcome of Internet time reduction as it appears to be problematic, (iv) build methodologically sound evidence-based prevention programmes, (v) focus on skill enhancement and the use of protective and harm-reducing factors, and (vi) include IA as one of the risk behaviours in multi-risk behaviour interventions. These appear to be crucial factors in addressing future research designs and the formulation of new prevention initiatives. Validated findings could then inform promising strategies for IA and gaming prevention in public policy and education.

Keywords: Internet addiction; addiction prevention; adolescents; gaming; schools; social media..

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior, Addictive / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Protective Factors
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • School Health Services*
  • Schools
  • Social Media